I blogged previously about presenting at big loud, noisy awards events. I’ve had a chance to reflect on a few of these since I did the Spinningfields Business Group Comedy Night and the Downtown Mancoolian Awards.
It seems a good opportunity today to refresh the seven golden rules and add a couple more.
1. It’s not about you – the stars of the show are the people coming up to get an award. Be confident, have authority, but don’t hog the stage and project your personality all over the event. And don’t tell jokes.
2. On no account be sleazy or flirty with women on stage, swear or remove articles of clothing. This is the most toe-curling thing you can do. As these are business awards making comments and drawing attention to how someone looks is a massive show of disrespect for their abilities as a business person.
3. Let everyone know how the winners were chosen – so many awards lack credibility. Rightly or wrongly they are seen as a sop to sponsors. Making efforts to explain exactly how the awards were won is essential.
4. Make the winners and shortlisted feel special. This is an important occasion for them, it matters. Make sure you congratulate them, discourage triumphalism, encourage humility. Make eye contact and shake hands with them. And get their names and company names right. Check everything.
5. Keep a pace to the event. There’s a thin line between rattling through categories too fast and making everyone else there engaged. The important time to get this right is at the script stage. Edit and tune the script, check everything. If there’s time, encourage a winner to say a few words of thanks, but not if they seem intoxicated. The very best way is to do a short question and answer with a handheld microphone. You can always politely remove it if they’re rambling.
6. Never tell the audience to shush. I’ve made this mistake once and it just makes things worse. If people are talking then there are many more devices to get round this. You don’t have to demand they are quiet. It’s their night too – help them enjoy it.
7. Enjoy it. Be warm, be natural, but above all have fun. I’ve seen highly paid professional comedians and public figures treat the whole thing as a chore. This is so disrespectful to everyone there. Instead, show how much fun you are having by sharing in the joy of others. Remember it’s a celebration.
8. Don’t rely on Autocue. I used to use Autocue all the time. I have heard some horror stories recently about an experienced TV presenter getting hopelessly out of kilter with the old version of his script for an awards event. Then there’s this of the director Michael Bay at CES, losing the plot – tip: if you are using it, have good old fashioned card as a backup.
9. Thank everyone appropriately. Find a way to show how much you and the organisers value the sponsorship for the event. This rarely comes cheap, so do it authentically and gratefully. There will also be judges who have devoted time to the enterprise. Thank them too. The best sponsorships are based on a deeper engagement – just look at how Melbourne Server Hosting made the Mancoolian Awards work for them (pictures, above).
I actually don’t want anyone to remember too much of what I do at an awards. I want them to remember the winners, the sponsors and the guests. Thank you very much. Goodnight!